It's a common challenge for managers to keep new hires engaged and motivated in their work. Employees who are not engaged are less productive and can even be a drain on resources. Here we'll cover the definition of employee engagement, what happens when employees aren't engaged, and how to foster employee engagement—especially for those new hires.
What does employee engagement mean?
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to their job and its purpose. Employee engagement often occurs when employees:
- feel happy in the workplace
- are fulfilled by their job responsibilities
- have opportunities for growth
- feel valued by leadership
- understand what's expected of them
- receive regular feedback from managers or supervisors
- are communicated with clearly
- have a clear path to promotion
- have supportive colleagues at work
- feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves
What happens when employees aren’t engaged?
When employees are disengaged, it often shows in their work. They may start to produce lower-quality work, make more mistakes, and take longer to complete tasks. This can lead to frustration among their colleagues and customers. Disengaged employees can also be disruptive and uncooperative. They may badmouth the company or management to other employees, or even customers. This can create a toxic work environment that is difficult to manage and fix.
Why is employee engagement especially important with new hires?
It's especially important to foster a positive relationship with new hires. By doing so, you set the precedence for their future with the company and create a positive work environment from the get-go. New employees are more likely to stay with the company if they feel appreciated, valued and respected early on in their employment.
What can companies do to keep new hires engaged?
There are a number of ways to foster employee engagement with new hires. Here are five tips to help you keep new hires motivated and on track.
1. Set clear expectations from the beginning.
Make sure new employees know what is expected of them, and establish goals that are achievable but still challenging. Employees who feel like they are part of a team and understand their role within it are more likely to be engaged.
2. Give feedback regularly.
New employees need feedback to know how they're doing and what they can do to improve. Feedback should be positive, constructive, and specific.
3. Encourage creativity and innovation.
New employees want to feel like they're making a contribution, so encourage them to think outside the box and come up with new ways of doing things. By doing so, you let them know that their input is valued and respected — another important employee engagement factor.
4. Provide opportunities for employee development.
Offer training and coaching to help them develop professional skills that will benefit them in their future careers.
5. Reward good work and behavior, especially when it comes from new hires.
This recognition shows that you value the employee and what they have to offer. It also positively reinforces their good work and behavior, which could lead to increased employee engagement as a whole.
6. Foster employee relationships.
It's important for new hires to feel connected with their co-workers and to be treated as an addition to the team, not an inconvenience or a burden. Some companies have formal programs to encourage employee communication and socialization, while others leave it more open ended. No matter what kind of relationships are encouraged within the workplace, it's important that your employees have opportunities to get to know each other inside and outside of work. Check out our list of blue-collar team building ideas for some inspiration.
Managers who engage new hires with clear direction, opportunities for growth and continued support from co-workers can help keep them motivated during their first few months on the job...and keep them at the company for many more to come!